Hazard Research

Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Tornadoes. Wildfires. Droughts. Floods.

Sometimes it seems Mother Nature hates humans. However, all of these “disasters” are really just natural (and often necessary) processes. In fact, there is really no such thing as a natural disaster – there are only natural events that humans either can’t or, more often, won’t plan for and therefore minimize their impact.

Of course, humans are also pretty good at creating disasters without any help from nature. Industrial accidents can become disasters, impacting both the human and natural environment, as recent train derailments in the US have shown. And then there is the greatest disaster of all, human conflicts and wars, which now have the ability to be worse than all but the most catastrophic natural events.

Enki uses sophisticated computer models and remote sensing to not just observe these complex events, but forecast their impact on human activities and populations, especially the economic impacts.

Economics are an integral part of natural and anthropogenic hazards research. While it may seem unfeeling to discuss economic impacts during a disaster, in fact it is economics that is behind many of these events. It is economic priorities that drives preparing for an event – do we spend on mitigating and preparing for events that haven’t happened (yet), or do we spend on other things? Economics drives how quickly recovery aid gets to people in need – or if they get help at all. In short, while we would like to believe we put lives first, in reality, the unfortunate facts are money (and politics) drives many aspects of the emergency management and disaster response process.